BERSIH People's Convention – 20 July 2007

BERSIH, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, announces its People’s Convention, which will be held on Friday, 20 July 2007 at the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall at 8.30pm.

The Convention is part of BERSIH’s campaign to raise awareness of the bias and unfairness of the electoral system in Malaysia and to press for electoral reforms. The evening’s programme will feature key NGO leaders such as Syed Shahir (MTUC), Yap Swee Seng (SUARAM), Maria Chin Abdullah (Women’s Development Collective), V. Gayathry (Centre for Independent Journalism), Lee Huat Seng (DEMA), and political party leaders such as, Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Guan Eng (DAP), Dato Seri Hadi Awang (PAS) and Dr. Nasir Hashim (PSM).
Launched in November 2006 in Parliament by MPs and NGO leaders, BERSIH is supported by 64 organizations comprising NGOs, civil society groups and five political parties. BERSIH’s four key demands are:
The use of indelible ink is a must in the next general election. BERSIH welcomes the Election Commission’s decision, pending approval from the Fatwa Council. We hope there will be no hiccups in the implementation of this necessary move, which will eliminate the problem of multiple voters.
A comprehensive review and clean-up of the electoral roll is mandatory, as there is still a high incidence of dead voters and ‘suspect’ registrations on the roll. Apart from that, perfectly valid voters have been removed from the roll in the last two elections for no good reason. [EC should advice against having elections until the rolls have been sufficiently cleaned up. If any constitutional and legal changes is deemed necessary for such clean-up, EC must publicly propose such changes.]
The system of domestic postal voting should be repealed, as it is ripe for abuse. Polling agents from contesting parties are only allowed to watch the removal of postal vote envelopes at these centres, and only Election Commission officers are allowed to observe the handover of postal vote envelopes to the voters at army camps and police quarters. No observers are allowed to witness the polling process.
As stated by Minister in the PM’s Department, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz in a Bernama news report on 11 July 2007: “We do not interfere in the armed forces and police administration. Things like where the personnel votes are made are decided by them.”
Such leeway given to the security forces is not only a deviation from the principle that the Election Commission is the only administrator of elections to ensure uniformity and procedural justice; it opens the floodgate to widespread abuse of the system.
Fair media access is crucial to the democratic process and ensuring a level playing field. BERSIH demands that media coverage be extended to allow other contesting parties, apart from the BN, to publicize their message. The broadcast media, private or public, must be allowed to accept paid advertisements from other contesting parties in an election.
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